Secession Within the US?

“Yeah, why not?” would be my answer to this question.

Apparently, it’s a question being asked more and more lately in some states. I wouldn’t mind seeing a federal republic with twice or even three times as many states as we have now.

Conceptually, this would be no different from secession within the EU or any other federal or confederal arrangement.

Can anybody answer my answer (which is actually a question)? That is to say: what are some objections you can think of to more decentralization of power within the US?


8 thoughts on “Secession Within the US?

  1. Isn’t the question re. secession within states which wouldn’t do anything major to decentralize federal power since there would be just another new state. However, it could cause more expenses for the overhead of managing yet another government entity.

    • AHB,

      Great observation. Yes, you are correct that the main objection to secession within the US is basically that is doesn’t decentralize power, and instead contributes towards further centralization.

      Yet the federal pie itself would not grow in the event of a few states splitting up.

      Think of it this way: suppose the federal budget is $100 for the year. Currently, there are 100 Senators and 435 members of the House, so altogether there are 535 politicians dividing up the $100 pie.

      Now suppose the number of states suddenly doubled. You now have 200 Senators and say 870 members of the House.

      Numbers like this guarantee that each politician will have less power.

      Additionally, you cannot grow the federal pie simply by creating new states out of thin air. If this were the case, then politicians and intellectuals who favor the government redistribution of wealth approach would have long ago advocated for more states. Advocates of redistribution recognize that more decentralization of power makes it harder to come to a consensus about policy options.

      And the less government does, the better off everybody will be.

      Now, with this being said, there is more than one type of pie. There are state pies and county pies and private sector pies, too. Secession would weaken the power of state-level politicians (Governor Brown could only inflict damage on northern Californians rather than all Californians, for example).

      County pies may or may not grow, but in my estimation I do not think growth at the county level is all that important.

      The one pie that would grow would be the private sector pie, largely due to the lack of consensus (or, in other words, the greater amount of special interests) at the federal level that decentralization brings about.

      • Thanks AHB.

        Another angle I had not considered was the rural-urban divide. A lot of anti-secession arguments claim that more decentralization would give rural interests too much leverage in Washington via more Senators.

        This is an important enough objection, especially when one considers the power of the farm lobby as it is. Yet I don’t think an increase in power of rural interests would actually affect what Washington does because, again, the size of the federal pie would not increase along with the power of rural interests.

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